I can pinpoint the exact moment I decided to become an environmentalist. I remember the day so well. My eldest daughter was about 6 months old and I went to a talk by Dr Sarah Lantz, the author of Chemical Free Kids. She opened my eyes to another world, a world where my precious baby was being subjected to so many harsh chemicals in the "healthy" life I was focused on giving her. As they say, once you know something, you can't un-know it. And since that day I have been on a journey to leading a more natural life.
it was not as easy as I thought it would be. I've made so many mistakes and fumbled so many times. I've felt overwhelmed and have dealt with well-meaning friends and relatives' peer pressure as they see me change from the person I was to who I am now.
Fast forward to today, 13 years on and I'm still learning and at times, still fumbling. But it is a lot easier. One thing I wish I had when I started on this journey was someone to passed on their knowledge to me so I could learn from their mistakes and their wins. I read a lot of books, listened to a lot of podcasts but they all just seemed to have their eco life together, it just looked like it ran so smoothly. When I compared myself to them, I felt like I came up short. I have learnt there is no perfect environmentalist, we are all doing the best we can. So, here are my top 7 tips to being the best imperfect environmentalist you can be.
1. Know Your Why
There is a reason why this is listed first. If you are not clear on your why then you don't have a strong enough reason to stick to your new way of life. Simply knowing you should do something doesn't equate to actually doing something. You need emotion and passion behind your goals, then it becomes a must. A should does not stick, but a must makes it non-negotiable. When your why is strong enough, it becomes a must.
2. Take It Slow
Be patient. If you are anything like me, you want it all to happen yesterday! Be patient and cut yourself some slack. Work on one thing at a time. If you are unsure what to choose first, choose the thing that is bothering you the most, or the easiest thing to change.
Make sure your new change is a habit before you move on to the next change. It may seem slow but it's better to do one thing well than many things badly.
4. Educate Yourself
There is so much to learn when you change to an intentional and conscious life. Pick your format of choice and dive right in. Me, I love books, podcasts and blogs, and audiobooks are the bomb when you have a lot of driving to do.
5. Be Realistic
I know you want to change the world for the better, but it needs to be something that is achievable for you. Too many times I have attempted something way beyond my capabilities and have failed dismally. Like the time I attempted to have a self-sufficient garden that supplied our family with all of the fruit, vegetables and eggs we needed while running two businesses and raising toddlers, all in the confines of a small backyard.
6. Form Good Habits & Stick to Them
Living sustainably is so much easier when you are organised and this comes from having good habits. I tend to be less organised than I would like, so forming good habits is crucial for me. A habit means you are not making a choice each time you do something, instead it is a free-flowing routine that does not take the mental exertion that making a decision does. If you want to exercise each day but don't do it at a regular time then every single day you have to tackle the decision of when you will exercise, and if you are anything like me, it ends up not happening. Instead, if you head to the gym straight after you get up then you have taken the decision making away from it and are creating an easy habit. I suggest reading Atomic Habits by James Clear.
7. Own Your Story
When you own your story you own the ability to change it. If you are unhappy with the environmental impact you are having on the planet, own that it's you that got yourself into this position, this means that you also have the ability to get yourself out of it. Blaming others and making excuses might make you feel better in the moment but it is disempowering and won't help you move forward.
Whatever stage you are at in your environmental journey, don't compare yourself to others as I did in the beginning. As long as you try and do better than you did the day before you are on the right track. And if you fall off the wagon today and went backwards instead of forwards, be easy on yourself, keep the momentum going and tomorrow is another day. Remember better, not best.